At some point a year or two ago, I bought a whole bunch of books for not very much money; can’t remember where. They sat on my bookshelf en masse, all but untouched until I got into this recent reading binge. First up had to be the 1996 autobiography of Walter Cronkite (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009), for he was my all-time favorite news anchor.
The early chapters, about him growing up in Kansas City and later Houston, I found to be a bit bloodless, even as he tells about murderous racism. It seemed very “that’s the way it was.” His World War II retelling was somewhat livelier. When he described being stationed in Moscow for CBS News, he realized “how effective lies can be when the truth is suppressed,” so that his Russian driver was convinced that the Soviets had invented baseball and the Jeep.
When he gets to the issue of television, though Continue reading Book Review: A Reporter's Life by Walter Cronkite
How did a play written 72 years ago about a small town in New Hampshire, with no scenery and few props, “transcend the ages to become America’s most produced play”? Maybe it’s because it contains some universal themes.
[Thorton] Wilder’s principal message in Our Town — that people should appreciate the details and interactions of everyday life while they live them — became critical…when the play hit theaters in 1938. It was a time of tremendous international tension, and citizens across the globe suffered from fear and uncertainty. Our Town directed attention away from these negative aspects of life…and focused instead on the aspects of the human experience that make life precious. Wilder revealed his faith in the stability and constancy of life through his depiction and discussion of the small town of Grover’s Corners, with its “marrying . . . living and . . . dying.” Continue reading O is for Our Town
I’m not sure that most people can fully understand cultural phenomena that take place before they were born, or aware of the outside word. A person born after 1968 could appreciate the Beatles’ music, but could he or she she understand Beatlemania?
Well, that’s how I am about the actor James Dean, who died 55 years ago today, not to be confusion with Jimmy Dean, the sausage guy who died recently. I recognize him as a cultural icon, though he was in only three major movies, two of which were released posthumously. I understand it intellectually, but I didn’t “get” it.
Continue reading James Dean – d. 9/30/55